Six Top Trends To Watch In 2012

We take a look at the biggest things happening now in horticulture and why they are important to the industry.

by Michael Kovalycsik, National Sales & Marketing Director, Delta T Solutions

Only one month into 2012 and it’s already clear that this is a year like no other. Business owners are putting new plans into place, addressing old challenges and trying to head off new ones.

Horticulture has some big changes in store this year, following several trends. And then there are the constant variables of the economy, weather, labor and technology, which can make or break the spring growing and sales season.

At Delta T Solutions, we are affected by these trends almost as much as growers are, and in your interest and ours, we will continue to keep watch on these and other important events impacting the industry. Meanwhile, here is our take on the biggest trends for 2012.

 

Lettuce
Expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather.
Photo by A.J. Both, Rutgers University
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1. UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER
While last year was a year of extremes, the opposite is true in 2012, with some of the mildest weather on record. Still, weather will continue to be one of the biggest hindrances or contributors to a successful growing season. Read about some great resources in “Predicting The Weather.”

2. HOPEFUL ECONOMY
After a rough year in 2011 due to a slow economy and weather challenges, it’s nice to see that growers are hopeful for improving sales in 2012.


According to a recent survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine, 29 percent of growers indicated that they expected their 2012 sales to be up 10 percent or more, over 2011 sales. Meanwhile, 34 percent said they expect sales increases of between 5 and 10 percent; 16 percent said sales will be up less than 5 percent; 12 percent expect flat sales. Very few growers forecasted sales declines in 2012.

3. LOCALLY GROWN MOVEMENT
Expect to hear more about this in 2012, with the very recent scandal over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s deregulation of genetically modified (GMO) alfalfa. The organic and locally grown communities are in an uproar, demanding food labeling, and meanwhile encouraging consumers to self-regulate by swearing off any food not certified organic or locally grown. This is a great opportunity for produce growers and those considering growing veggie and fruit crops to capture market share. Learn more here.

4. EVEN MORE SOCIAL MEDIA
Dramatically changing the face of consumerism, social media is bringing us into an age when shoppers will check their smart phones for information rather than asking a real person. Combine this accessibility of information with the expanding locally grown movement and consumers are practically demanding to be on a first name basis with their food producers. This can be a good thing. If you haven’t already, set up a fan page on Facebook, start a Twitter feed and invest in a Web site and blog. Consider hiring a web consultant to create a mobile application that allows customers to find you easily and research your products. Transparency can do wonders for your bottom line.

5. NATIONAL MARKETING ORDER OPTION
Will the horticulture industry adopt a national marketing order to increase sales in 2012? It’s a hot debate with many pros and cons. Many remember past efforts toward enforcing mandatory promotional campaigns and argue that forcing industry members to contribute will go nowhere. Others say the existing America In Bloom campaign, fostering the increased usage of flowers, shrubs and trees in communities across America, is all the national marketing campaign that is necessary. But in a recent Greenhouse Grower.com essay, former OFA president Danny Takao gave a new spark to the marketing order conversation with an idea for an association-based collection mechanism. He wrote that assessing yearly dues based on annual sales over the entire supply chain would spread the cost out and raise the necessary funds. The more companies who participate, the less each will have to pay. OFA’s elected leaders and staff are discussing how the organization could take an active role in a national marketing order. Learn more here.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

6. NEW PLANTING OPPORTUNITIES
With the release of the USDA’s updated version of the Plant Hardiness Zone map, you could have an opportunity to provide new plants to your customers. The new map shifts many zones one-half zone warmer than the previous version of the map, released in 1990. This new edition of the map is based on weather data over a 30-year period, from 1976 to 2005. While the 1990 map used temperature as the basis for mapping the zones, this new version uses data like elevation, slope, wind and proximity to water to determine zone. The new map also uses data from more weather stations than the 1990 map did.


Though this doesn’t mean you can get carried away with your plant selections, it does offer an opportunity for you to challenge customers to push their boundaries and be more creative in the plants they buy.

Click here for the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, including a search by Zip code.

Delta T Solutions wishes you a very successful and prosperous New Year in 2012! For your heating and irrigation needs, contact a representative at 800-552-5058 or email: info@deltatsolutions.com.

 

 

 
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